Six months ago, Baltimore-based FreeState Legal and financially strapped Equality Maryland announced a merger “to form a comprehensive, statewide direct legal services and policy advocacy organization that addresses the needs of LGBTQ Marylanders.”
Following a series of listening stops across the state as well as online surveys to learn what community members believe the newly formed organization should be doing, the organization unveiled its new name, FreeState Justice, at a fundraiser at the Baltimore Museum of Industry on June 30.
“FreeState Justice is the perfect name as we transition toward an organization that provides legal services and policy advocacy across the state on behalf of Maryland’s LGBTQ community,” said Jessica P. Weber, board president of FreeState Justice in a statement. “The name FreeState Justice is both an homage to Equality Maryland, once named Free State Justice, and an appreciation of FreeState Legal’s impact. The ‘justice’ we envision in our name is a Maryland where people across the spectrum of LGBTQ identities are free to live authentically, with safety and dignity, in all communities throughout our state.”
Patrick A. Paschall, the organization’s executive director, notes the progress made in Maryland regarding LGBTQ rights but recognizes much work remains.
“We have seen unbelievable progress in our state and country in recent years, with successes like the passage of a transgender-inclusive nondiscrimination law and achieving marriage equality,” Paschall said. “Yet, we continue to receive calls on a daily basis from LGBTQ Marylanders who still experience discrimination in housing, health care, employment, and public accommodations, who risk of losing custody of their children, and who face bullying and harassment in schools.”
State Sen. Rich Madaleno has been in the forefront of LGBT equality throughout his public career. “I’m excited to have a strong statewide organization moving forward that’s ready to defend our rights individually and as a community,” Madaleno told the Blade.
FreeState Justice has a new logo and website at http://www.freestate-justice.org/.